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Olmsted County and COVID-19: More younger people infected, death rate slowed

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- As other counties across the country see large increases in COVID-19 infections, Olmsted County's numbers remain relatively stable.

Olmsted County Director of Public Health Graham Briggs presented the latest updates to the county board on Tuesday morning. Briggs said overall, Olmsted County has seen low percentages of positive cases.

Briggs said as of Tuesday morning, there have been 1,146 COVID-19 cases in Olmsted County and 15 deaths. The number of deaths is not high enough to see a trend, Briggs said.

According to the statistics Briggs presented, the industries that have seen the highest rate of positive cases has been manufacturing at 24 percent, healthcare at 18 percent and restaurants and hospitality at 8 percent.

Since the stay-at-home order ended about six weeks ago, there has been a shift in demographics regarding who is getting infected. There are now more younger people infected (ages 20 to 29) than older people. Briggs said the reopening of bars and restaurants is partially responsible for the rise in younger people becoming infected.

Briggs also said the death rate has slowed. He added that hospitals in Olmsted County have never been strained due to COVID-19 and ICUs have never seen more than five COVID-19 patients at one time.

As the City of Rochester begins its mandated mask policy on Wednesday, Briggs commented on the difference wearing face masks makes.

"The data is growing more and more convincing that a cloth mask doesn't protect me, as a person from getting COVID-19," Briggs said. "But it does protect the people that I walk by in the grocery store and any others who may be at risk. I don't know who is a parent of a child with lymphoma or who is at high risk at the grocery store or out in public."

Briggs said the county is working on a partnership with Mayo Clinic to track data to get a bigger picture of the percentage of people exposed overall. He said if he had to guess, less than 5 percent of the people living in Olmsted County have been exposed.

Briggs said the next couple months are critical and despite Olmsted County's relatively low numbers, we are not out of the woods yet.

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Megan Zemple

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